To select the right buffing wheel for the job you need, you need to know a little about buffing wheels themselves. In general, there are three distinctive types of buffing, and each one uses a buffing wheel designed for that task. Additionally, some people create their own custom buffing wheels by sewing on different types and layers of fabrics.
The finest level of buffing is called coloring. Typically, it requires a buffing compound, and several applications with progressively softer buffing wheels. The intention of coloring is to bring out the natural luster of the materials. Many people call this process polishing. It brings out the shiniest surface of whatever material you are working on. Coloring is perfect for cleaning brass or silver. It also removes tarnish and other blemishes.
When you need to make minor cuts with buffing machines, it is called cutting down the material. The buffing wheel is usually a solid piece of material that consists of a composite blade that is treated for cutting purposes. The blades are treated with items like embedded diamond or carbide bits the make cutting easier. Other cutting wheels are designed for more fragile materials, and may be made of pieces of fabric sewn together in a spiral stitch.
To remove dust or corrosion, coarse buffing may be the best buffing wheel solution. The buffing wheel surface will feel as coarse as grit sandpaper and it performs the same type of job. However, using a wheel will accomplish buffing goals in much shorter time frames. As with the other 2 types, there are many grades and levels of coarse buffing wheels, ranging from highly abrasive to finer textures that won't scratch or mar the surface.
Cushion buffs are used for light cutting jobs or heavy coloring, depending on the specific grade of cotton used in its design. Typically, cushion buffs are sewn with a lockstitch design that gives it a more durable, resilient effect. In most cases, a cushion buff has a smooth, flat surface. Some wheels use a fleeced pad instead and are used for waxing projects.
Canton flannel Buffs
This type of buffing wheel is used primarily for coloring gold, silver, or other hard metals. Add a small amount of rouge as the buffing compound. Canton flannel buffing wheels are pliable enough to contour to any surface, making it far easier to buff intricate designs or patterns.
Spiral Sewed Buffs
A spiral sewed cutting wheel is typically used for cutting down more fragile materials. There may be several layers of cotton or other materials, and they are designed to provide you with maximum cutting ability.
Depending on the task, you will need to use different buffing compounds. For coloring, rouge or paste wax are often used. For coarse buffing, the compound you choose should be formulated for your particular task, such as a gritty buffing compound for removing rust or corrosion.